'Boss' Season 3: Jeff Hephner promises there would have been more naked Zajac
Starz axed the critically acclaimed but low-rated show after two seasons (which ended last October), leaving Kane's story of power and corruption unfinished. Also left hanging was the future of Illinois state treasurer Ben Zajac ( Jeff Hephner), who had survived a sex scandal to be elected governor (albeit one in Kane's pocket).
Now back home in New York City -- the series shot in Toronto -- Hephner says he's heard from many "Boss" fans.
"Especially people who are just getting into it," he tells Zap2it, "without the knowledge that it had been canceled. They'll run through Season 1, come up to Season 2 and then they're like, 'What? You're done? Horses**t.'
"I'm in New York City, and people stop me every single day. They're like, 'That's not OK. It's not OK.' There were a lot of people who loved that show. They got it. They're really into it."
Asked if there's any chance that "Boss" could continue its story on Starz or another outlet -- including Netflix, etc. -- Hephner says, "In this day and age, you can't rule anything out. I know that Lionsgate is smart enough that if somebody came to them and said, 'Hey, let's finish this thing off. Let's wrap it up,' I know they could deliver something that would wrap this thing up beautifully.
"Never say never. Everybody would want to do it. It ended way too soon."
On Season 1 of "Boss," Zajac carried on a torrid affair with Kane's aide, Kitty O'Neil ( Kathleen Robertson), and also had a dalliance with another politician's wife, caught on camera. This meant that Hephner spent much of that season in various states of undress.
Zajac mostly kept his clothes on in season two, which disappointed fans who expected more of the same (especially considering the rampant nudity on other Starz shows, such as the recently ended gladiator drama "Spartacus").
"I was surprised," says Hephner, a long-married father of three. "They must have been tired of seeing me from Season 1. I'm like, 'Just ask me to work out a little bit.' I'd have done it. We'd get it all figured out.
"I'm not really active on Twitter, but when I am, I get people who tweet me pictures of me naked. I find that to be so weird, I, probably, in the last month, a dozen times, had somebody tweet me a picture of my butt.
"What do you want me to say? They're like, 'Hey, what was this like?' 'Now it's twice as awkward, now that you've tweeted me a picture of my butt.'"
Some critics accused "Boss" of being too cynical about politics. Kane even resorted to soliciting murder to clear the way for Zajac to be elected. But despite Zajac's extramarital hijinks, there's every reason to think he could have survived it anyway.
After all, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was recently elected to Congress -- beating the sister of Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report."
Also, disgraced New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is contemplating a run for mayor of New York City despite tweeting pictures of his private parts and loudly and publicly denying it until he made an equally public admission of guilt and dishonesty.
"That's where 'Boss' was so great," says Hephner. "We would tap into things that people really did. What Zajac puts himself through and still goes out and tries to be a civil servant, as if nothing happened -- that, I find fascinating, because this is what people really do."
For those who wonder, if "Boss" were to come back for a third season, Hephner says, "Yes, I'm pretty sure there would be more naked Zajac."
Of course, as a Roman Catholic husband and father, that would just add to the eventual difficult conversation Hephner plans to have with his children.
"You go into a scene," he says, "and you're about to be doing these things that you're specifically going to tell your kids not to do, to avoid to be careful with, and you're going to portray this rambunctious, wild person, and there's actual video proof of you doing it.
"As a parent, you're going to deny all the stuff you did anyway, in hopes they won't do it, right? Actually, they're going to be able to go download it. It's going to be a very delicate thing."
While Hephner would head back to the gym for future episodes of "Boss," he's not sure anything else would justify going to those lengths again as an actor.
"There were parts of it," he says, "that don't jibe with who I am, and they did make me uncomfortable. It's easy to joke and be playful with it ... I don't know if I'd ever find a character like Zajac again, and at a time in my life again, when it all makes sense.
"I feel like I've pushed that envelope as much as I'm going to, and I can't foresee ... obviously you never say never, but I can't foresee where it would make sense again."